Guide by Neil Patel: How to Build an E-commerce Brand Using Instagram When You Have No Followers

How to Build an E-commerce Brand

How to Build an E-commerce Brand? There are plenty of tips for using Instagram as an effective online marketing tool, but scaling your e-commerce brand on Instagram can be challenging if you’re a new brand that doesn’t yet have a large number of followers.

New accounts often have low engagement rates, which can be frustrating, but there are ways to strategically get this period right.

Let’s talk about why Instagram as a marketing tool matters, how it can help you grow your business, and consider effective strategies for growing your e-commerce brand even if you don’t have followers.

Why is Instagram a powerful e-commerce tool?

Today, 81 percent of people use Instagram to find products and services to buy. So by using strategies to stand out from your competition and attract potential customers to your Instagram e-commerce page, you can reach a wider audience.

To do this, you need to understand what makes Instagram a powerful e-commerce tool.

Studies show that we remember more of what we see in photos and videos than what we read in plain text. This makes visual-oriented platforms like Instagram a major marketing tool.

Instagram allows you to upload product photos, share demo videos, partner with influencers, connect with interested subscribers and increase ROI.

This will help you grow your e-commerce business faster than marketing only through Facebook and Twitter (which have less than half the brand engagement rate on Instagram).

10 ways to grow your e-commerce brand on Instagram

Now we know that Instagram has a lot to offer marketers of all levels, but how do you take advantage of these benefits if you don’t have subscribers?

Don’t worry. Here are actionable strategies you can use today to start increasing your Instagram followers.

Engage with comments and reviews

Having a large number of followers is useless if you don’t interact with them. The best way to get and keep a large number of followers is to interact with potential customers.

Interacting with users takes minutes, but can significantly increase your revenue.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Turn on notifications of all comments.
  • Respond to every comment you receive, whether positive or negative. This will help increase engagement with your posts.
  • Examine the feedback and see if there are areas you can improve.
  • Thank users for taking the time to engage with your posts.
  • Avoid unleashing bickering in comment sections, even if you don’t agree with the user’s opinion. This will help you maintain a positive impression online.

Research your competitors

If you don’t know how to get started, look at what your competitors are doing.

Your competitors have already done a great job and have built up a huge base of interested subscribers. You can use this to your advantage.

All you have to do to attract your subscribers is go to your competitors’ Instagram profiles and steal their audience.

You should already have a pretty good idea of who your competitors are. If not, try using the Instagram discovery tool to find popular accounts in your industry.

You can also start by looking for keywords and hashtags related to your brand. The best accounts related to that keyword should show up.

Hold giveaways in exchange for engagement

Instagram giveaways can be a great way to engage users. You may have seen some of them in your feed.

They usually say, “Like this post and tag a friend to win a free product,” but this strategy may not be the most effective way to get real subscribers.

Giveaways often attract people who want a free product and are willing to like your image to get it.

Instead, ask users to upload photos to Instagram about your e-commerce brand or follow your page. If you ask users to post content, be sure to share a branded hashtag so more users know about you.

Start by announcing your contest with an Instagram post. Include the rules in the description section so people know how to enter the contest.

If you need help coming up with giveaway ideas, use a tool like Woobox. This tool helps brands of all types and sizes create social media contests that boost sales, increase followers and attract potential customers.

Instead of prizes unrelated to your niche or brand, such as a free iPad, offer your own products for free. Otherwise, people may only follow you because of the prize and not because of interest in your brand.

Post user-generated content (UGC)

If you want to increase engagement, make it a rule to post user-generated content. This could simply be asking users to do a review of your product in exchange for a free sample.

You can also run big user-generated content contests in which dozens (or hundreds) of users share their experiences related to your product and industry. This will help you attract new users you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

Customize and optimize your store

Giveaways and hashtags may be easier than a customized, well-optimized store, but they’re not more important.

In fact, easy navigation and a memorable storefront can increase your sales.

Here are a few ways to customize and optimize your e-commerce store on Instagram for maximum visibility.

  • Offer promotions right in the photo or in the first line of the description so users don’t scroll past it.

  • Add in store links to photos so customers can buy your product directly.
  • Make descriptions simple, clean and clear so that new users can quickly get an idea of what your e-commerce brand is all about on Instagram.
  • Add links to your store on other channels, including an Instagram description (or bio), website, other social media pages and an email signature.

Create a branded hashtag.

An easy way to keep track of who’s talking about your e-commerce store on Instagram is to create a branded hashtag. You can use the name of your business, an existing slogan or other creative phrase.

Then let your customers know what that hashtag is by adding it to your bio and encouraging followers to use it in their posts.

Later, you can search for your hashtag to find and quickly share user-generated content. You should also add these tags to your images to remind your subscribers.

For example, when you search for the tag “#topshop,” millions of photos show popular user-generated content related to that brand.

Not only do custom images increase your brand’s visibility, but they also increase the visibility of other Instagram users so they can get more followers, too. It’s a win-win situation.

Prioritize the customer experience.

Sometimes you may do everything right but never get satisfactory results. You’ve used all the right hashtags, communicated with customers, and created tons of user-generated content, but you still haven’t gotten many sales.

Why is this the case?

Perhaps it’s because your customer experience leaves a lot to be desired.

The easier it is for users to find, browse and buy products in your store, the more sales you can get.

An easy way to try to raise your sales numbers is to make the customer experience a priority.

Is it easy for Instagram users to find your site or buy your products? Is your storefront easy to navigate? Do you have alt text for your images? Are you quick to answer questions?

It may seem like a small thing, but a good customer experience can help you find customers for life.

Collaborate with influencers in your niche

Instagram influencers are users with lots of followers and a high level of engagement.

Why are they important to your e-commerce business on Instagram?

They can help you expand your brand’s reach. These people have hundreds, thousands and sometimes millions of followers interested in hearing what these influencers have to say.

So if they recommend your product on their account, you’re likely to see an increase in sales.

How can you partner with influencers to grow your e-commerce business on Instagram?

Find influencers and big accounts in your niche. For example, if you are a cosmetics company, reach out to beauty bloggers and ask them to do a product post.

If a user lists an email address on their profile or says something like “DM for business inquiries,” it usually means they’re interested in posting sponsored posts.

Write or email these users and ask what their standard rates for sponsored posts are. Try to establish a relationship with these users.

If they are willing to work with your competitor, they may want to work with you.

Then make a spreadsheet comparing each account’s number of subscribers, cost per post, CPM, average number of likes per post, and number of subscribers divided by average number of likes per post.

Choose the account(s) with the highest return and lowest price.

If you are selling an original or unique product, it may be better to ask for a review rather than a product post.

Don’t think you necessarily need to pick high-profile names. Sometimes micro-influencers with a few thousand subscribers have a better ROI because they have a more targeted audience.

Use product tags

Another way to increase shopper convenience is to use product tags to increase e-commerce sales on Instagram.

Product tags allow users to buy directly from the app without having to go through many hurdles.

This makes it easier for them to buy, especially if they’re browsing products on the go (like most of us).

Create product collections

Instagram is working hard to create user-friendly store interfaces to increase e-commerce activity.

Along with handy features like product tags, Instagram has launched product collections, where users can browse products from a similar category.

This image from Instagram’s business blog shows that product collections make it easy to find what you want by scrolling through eye-catching product photos.

E-commerce questions and answers on Instagram

Should I pay for an Instagram e-commerce store?

Creating an Instagram account with your products is free, but you may have to spend money on advertising, shipping, taxes, transaction fees and other tools to make sales.

How do I know if I’m eligible to open an e-commerce store on Instagram?

Instagram has posted official eligibility guidelines on its help page. Among other rules, they include having a legitimate product, being in a supportive market and providing accurate information about your business.

How many followers do you need to get an Instagram store?

Unlike the 10,000 subscribers rule for the swipe-up feature on Instagram Stories, anyone can get access to Instagram’s e-commerce features if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Do you need a website to sell on Instagram?

Yes, Instagram’s e-commerce rules state that your business must have a website domain from which you intend to sell your products in order to qualify for the Instagram store.

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